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Crafting Pencils & Crafting People

A tent in a vicar’s back garden was the first home of the Keswick Convention. Rev. Thomas Harford-Battersby could not have imagined how God would bless the work he started on the lawn of St John’s vicarage in 1875. For nearly 150 years the core values of the Convention have remained the same.

Our prayer was for deep, clear, powerful teaching, which would take hold of the souls of the people, and overwhelm them, and lead them to a full, definite and all-conquering faith in Jesus

But during that time God has expanded the work and provided venues to meet the growing needs.

  • In 1882 the Eskin Street site was bought for £375
  • In 1901 the first marque was erected on Skiddaw Street.
  • In 1997 Rawnsley Hall was purchased to accommodate the thriving youth work.

One of the most important milestones in the history of the Keswick Convention has been the Derwent Project. In 2015 we purchased the former Derwent Pencil Factory site to provide an integrated site for the Convention and a hub for year-round ministry. Through God’s kindness and the generosity of supporters, the site has been transformed and the derelict Pencil Factory refurbished.

Since 2015, £8million has been raised by over 6,000 supporters through 81,000 gifts.

Despite the Covid pandemic, the site was used as the main venue for the Convention for the first time in 2021. The refurbished Pencil Factory is used extensively during the 3 weeks of the summer but also as a venue for year-round teaching and training events. It is available for churches to use and in 2023 we hosted our first ‘Church Weekend Away’ event. Local community groups have also started using the space and there is increasing interest from other organisations looking for a venue in the heart of the Lake District.

When I was a baby I had a photograph standing outside the tent with my grandfather and now to see where the vision is going and to learn about what will happen in the future is such an encouragement.

The biggest difference is in the atmosphere… there’s interaction, conversations, unexpected meetings, and reflection, all in this spacious and safe environment. I suppose in a different sense than we usually imagine, this is the application of the Word.

As the main building work on the site is complete, the Derwent project is wrapping up. But in many ways, this is just the beginning. Please pray with us that we would use the facilities God has given us wisely. Pray that, by God’s grace, this new home of Keswick Ministries would be a place where the gospel advances, his Word is proclaimed, the cause of world mission flourishes, youth and children’s work is extended, and believers are resourced and refreshed – all for the glory of God.

Thank you to all those of you who have partnered with us over the last few years in the Derwent Project. Your giving is more than just in bricks and mortar. This is giving to the work of the Lord. Our prayer is that your children and your grandchildren will be able to Hear God’s Word, Become Like His Son and Serve His Mission because of the money that you have given and the sacrifice that you have made. Please know that the work of the Lord that you have given yourself to is not in vain. May God bless this project in all the years that lie ahead.

Written by Elizabeth McQuoid, Commissioning Editor, Keswick Ministries

Find Out More About The Derwent project

Since 2015, thanks to God’s guidance and provision through committed supporters like you we have already achieved a great deal…
Keswick Ministries